Although winter isn’t my favorite season, after teaching outdoor education in kindergarten for years, I now love all that winter has to offer. Beyond building snow forts and snowmen, there are so many things that you can do outside in the winter. I created a winter outdoor learning activity to try with my kids that involves learning and puzzles, but also the fun of being outside and playing in the snow and I love how this Snow Puzzles game turned out!
Spend some time outside in the snow with this unique outdoor learning activity. Children will work to solve six winter themed puzzles. The puzzles involve cracking a code, smashing some snow and solving a few simple math questions along the way.
Each puzzle leads players a collection of snow towers. Players carefully select and crush, the correct tower to give them part of the final clue!
This activity was a lot of fun to create and I love that it can easily be used to keep kids busy at home, or as an outdoor activity for children at school. Simply print and prepare the puzzles, have some fun building some snow towers with cups, and let the outdoor fun begin!
As a teacher, I like having games that I can set up quickly and don’t cost much to prepare. Luckily, you don’t need much for this winter outdoor learning activity and it can often be done without costing you anything. You will need:
- Large Cup or Container (This will be used to fill with snow and create ‘towers’)
- Free Snow Puzzle Game printable (Link at bottom of post)
- Write and Wipe Marker and Eraser (Optional)
- Laminator (Optional)
- Hot Chocolate (The puzzles lead children inside for surprise hot chocolate).
There is a little bit of prep involved, but simple cutting to prepare the materials. I also suggest laminating at least the numbers and word clues, because you are putting them in the snow and they will get wet.
However, if you don’t have a laminator, you can simply use clear tape and cover the pages, or put them in a small plastic baggie to keep them from getting wet.
I also hole punched each of the puzzle cards, and attached them to a metal ring, but you don’t have to do this. It makes it easier if you are having several groups do the activity and it keeps the cards organized and together.
Setting Up Your Winter Outdoor Learning Activity
Once you have the materials printed and prepared, throw on some gloves to set the puzzles up outside.
Start by setting the numbers, 3, 4, 5, 12, 17 and 20 aside from the 20 circles. These are the numbers that a puzzle leads to. You will need to put a word clue into these cups.
Fill the cup half full of snow and then add the word. Fill the cup the rest of the way and then flip it over into the snow and remove the cup to create a snow tower. Place the number on top and you are ready to go.
The picture below shows which word clue to put inside which number so that the solutions for each puzzle match up.
For the rest of the cups, that don’t have a clue/word inside, simply make the snow tower and place any of the other numbers on top.
Once all of the towers have been made, you are ready to start the game.
Playing the Snow Puzzles Game
The game can be played by one child, or by a group. You can have children solve the puzzles inside and then head outside to break the correct snow towers. Or you can have kids solve the puzzles outside and break the towers as they solve each puzzle.
Start by giving children the puzzle cards, the alphabet sheet and a write and wipe marker. You can also simply use pencil and paper. I laminated so that different groups could use the puzzles over and over.
Have children match the pictures on the puzzle card with the letter of the alphabet on the alphabet sheet. Once they are all matched, it will spell out a clue or number. This number tells children which snow tower to crush to find a word clue.
Solving the Winter Outdoor Learning Activity
If kids solve the puzzle clues in order, they will end up with a sentence at the end. If they solve the clues out of order then they will need to look at the six words and unscramble them to lead them to their final prize – which is hot chocolate.
You can make it more challenging by having six children each work on and solve one of the puzzles. Each child would then get to smash one snow tower and get one word. As a group children can then put the words together to solve the final prize.
Once all of the puzzles have been solved and players have the six words, the game is complete. The final clue leads children to “Come inside for some hot chocolate”.
I have also included blank word cards so that you can lead players to something other than hot chocolate. Any six words can be written on the circles so that you can end the game, and lead children into another activity in any way that works for you. Maybe something like: “Come inside and enjoy a movie” or “Let’s have a family snowball fight”.
The game is something different and fun that will keep children engaged outside in the snow. It is a great way to get kids happy and learning, and enjoying being outside.
If you don’t have snow where you live, the puzzles work well on their own and you don’t need to have snow. Alternatively, you could also use play clay or even sand to hide each of the words. Smashing the towers were my kids favourite thing to do, but the activity can be done without this part.
When I did the activity, I found that some of my numbers on top of the towers, were not staying put and some towers even started melting so a few numbers started to slip off. You can simply stick the numbers into the snow, versus laying them flat on the top, so that they stay put a little bit better.
If you are working with a larger group and want to make the activity more challenging, you can hide the words in a larger tower. Try a large bucket or huge snowball from a snowman. Several children can work on searching through the snow for the clue and it will take more time to find.
Free Winter Outdoor Learning Activity Puzzles
If you are interested in this activity, the printable pages are available for FREE. Subscribe to gain access to the pages that you see described above, and all of Hands-On Teaching Ideas printables. Click here to subscribe.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more hands-on teaching ideas and learning activities, below is a collection of my most popular and favorite activities. Whether you are teaching in a classroom, a caregiver or parent at home, there are lots of activities to keep kids busy and learning.
From escape room games, activities and winter STEM activities to more winter outdoor learning activities and printable winter activities, there is lots to choose from.